Prepare for the Best
For ten years Grid magazine has invited us to repair the planet and help one another. Most media scream that everything is getting worse because people are dangerous or stupid. Yet thousands of Philadelphians are building hundreds of businesses and organizations that shift power toward ecology and justice.
Meanwhile, modern society demands we compromise with the destruction of nature and the abuse of labor—that we shrink our dreams in order to have a home and a job. That we vote for candidates who will cause less damage rather than reverse damage. Thus there is constant social tension between tradition, reform and revolution. Between hierarchy and equality. Between caution and risk.
Those who have racial privilege and achieved comforts—homeownership, a retirement fund, decent health insurance, restaurant meals, travel, debts paid—are often satisfied with reform. But when an increasing part of the public lacks secure housing, steady work, medical care, retirement without debt and regular meals, then anger grows—especially among Black and brown people, the middle class and millennials. Eventually, without bold change, rich and poor alike will endure boiling summers, impossible food prices and greater violence.
So we are each challenged to decide how much to compromise or how much to rebel. Our paths forward are rugged because today without fossil fuels and uranium we could not heat and cool our homes, could not cook dinner, could not take hot showers, could not light the night. And yet these fuels poison the future.
The good news is that crude technologies, faulty science, poor decisions and greed got us into this mess. Therefore, new technologies, geoscience, smart decisions and generosity must drive the next Philadelphia.
To preserve civilization, we’ll need to rebuild it completely. Weaving nature into cities is a vast, orderly process that feeds and warms us without fossil fuels; delights us without shopping; heals us without pills; moves us without cars; protects us without wars; enriches us without dollars; employs us without pollution.
Let’s be realistic: this will take a while. Explicit slavery was banned in this nation partly because crazy Quakers first declared it evil, starting in Philadelphia 177 years before emancipation. Most workers now work eight-hour days with two days free because crazy, angry laborers bossed the bosses for two hundred years. Women can vote today because crazy ladies started demanding suffrage 72 years earlier. In each campaign, people risked their lives and homes. And in each they were told to shut up.
Today, a small group of proudly crazy people are saying that during the next decades, Philadelphians can systematically transform our car-clogged, fossil-fueled, gentrifying city, empowering the poor while fully employing the next ten generations. Such solutions surround us, as this magazine proves. Every neighborhood can enjoy green jobs, secure housing, cheap utilities, great schools, urban farms and free medical care.
Who could argue? Philadelphia’s current power brokers, who dominate land, law, labor and money. Their principal notion of economic development in this hungry city is condos and skyscrapers serving major employers—evicting the poor. They compromise our rebellion by making us compete for jobs, grants and loans. They purchase our silence.
Thus we will not prevail without confronting greed. We need not only to think outside the box, we need to break outside of it.
This is why the Green Party asked me to be their candidate for Pennsylvania governor in 2018. Both major party candidates favor fracking, accept mass incarceration, oppose marijuana legalization and are dominated by insurance lobbyists and corporate cash.
Greens intend to ban fracking, end mass incarceration, expand green jobs, expand transit and bike paths, extend Medicare to everyone based on co-ops, prioritize worker ownership, foster regional organic agriculture, restore fresh air and water, legalize marijuana and ensure that education inspires creativity—building cities as beautiful as our children.
Paul Glover is the author of six books on grassroots power, including Green Jobs Philly; he is one of four candidates for governor on the Pennsylvania ballot.